CPC Domain #11Demoscene Discmags
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We received the last ever bi-monthly issue (it's going monthly from issue 12) of this, the well-known disc fanzine, with anticipation. Although disc fanzines are immensely popular in France, British equivalents are much rarer (although there are a few). A vital difference.
This led into the main menu - a scrolling page which looks very much like one produced with one of the less impressive PD desktop publishing packages, Alan Scully's Pagemaker Plus. This is hardly surprising, as until a few issues ago, Alan Scully was boss-in-chief of CPC Domain. Today, he has very little to do with the whole thing, except being responsible for the menu screen code.

Enough of the history lesson, on with the review. The menu lets you choose from the various articles in the magazine, each of which consists of an ASCII text file. Scrolling is a bit slow, and together with the fact that each (short) article is loaded from disc - some articles are split into parts, and you have to load eoch part after the last - and that the text file displayer has nothing on such custom-written routines such as the excellent SCAN program from Dragonbreed, or the very nice article reader in Micro Mag (a French disc fanzine), this means that plodding through the fanzine is exceedingly tiresome. What about the contents of the articles? A lot of the magazine is taken up by readers' letters, which are stored in a separate file each. Because of this, each letter must be selected individually from the main menu for you to read it: this is, to put it bluntly, a pain in the neck. I found myself just giving up after having read half the letters..

The magazine also includes a lot of details about the CPC Domain empire. The full Domain PD library list is included, for example, as are articles from fanzine 'officials' on their work, and a few forms to fill in for subscriptions, ordering from the library, etc. There are a few serious reviews in there, which are welcome. However, it must be said that you get better serious reviews from reading Attack!, which illustrates its reviews with screenshots of the program in question. For a fanzine that takes up one whole 360k disc, the amount of articles is frankly pitiful.

The reasons why disc fanzines are so popular in France is that they take full advantage of the opportunities offered by running a fanzine on disc. For example, they include animations, superb graphics, music, program previews, and in some cases even machine code tutorials where the source code can be taken straight from the disc and inserted into your assembler. CPC Domain, unlike these, is a paper fanzine struggling to get out (in fact, it appeared on paper for the first few issues): all the articles could just as well be printed on paper, and in fact would probably be better off like that. Flicking pages is a lot less hassle than waiting a long time for the disc to load the appropriate articles!

That's not to say that CPC Domain makes no concessions to the disc format. There are a few 'free programs' on the disc, one of which was a disc manager. I loaded this up, selected a file, and chose the "Amend file" option. After a few seconds of rhythmical dunking, I became suspicious, and reset the machine to re-CATalogue the disc. "Drive A: read fail". A quick check with a disc sector editor revealed that the disc had been reformatted to a non-existent and ultimately useless format. So that's the end of that review, then!


★ YEAR: 1992
★ CONFIG: ???
★ AUTHOR: Barrie Snell , ...
★ INFO: The first of a tutorial in PASCAL, plus example programmes: more from Barrie Snell on transferring the latest Amstrad Action Covertapes to disc: Reviews of Spell Checkers both PD and commercial: Astrology on the CPC; the two main contenders battle it out (a demo disc of the winner becomes available in the PD library): a Bubble Jet printer gets put through it's paces. The free software includes a costing programme for saving you money on your phone bills, Amgraph, possibly the best statistical graph programme available, bar none.

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L'alinéa 8 de l'article L122-5 du Code de la propriété intellectuelle explique que « Lorsque l'œuvre a été divulguée, l'auteur ne peut interdire la reproduction d'une œuvre et sa représentation effectuées à des fins de conservation ou destinées à préserver les conditions de sa consultation à des fins de recherche ou détudes privées par des particuliers, dans les locaux de l'établissement et sur des terminaux dédiés par des bibliothèques accessibles au public, par des musées ou par des services d'archives, sous réserve que ceux-ci ne recherchent aucun avantage économique ou commercial ». Pas de problème donc pour nous!

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L'Amstrad CPC est une machine 8 bits à base d'un Z80 à 4MHz. Le premier de la gamme fut le CPC 464 en 1984, équipé d'un lecteur de cassettes intégré il se plaçait en concurrent  du Commodore C64 beaucoup plus compliqué à utiliser et plus cher. Ce fut un réel succès et sorti cette même années le CPC 664 équipé d'un lecteur de disquettes trois pouces intégré. Sa vie fut de courte durée puisqu'en 1985 il fut remplacé par le CPC 6128 qui était plus compact, plus soigné et surtout qui avait 128Ko de RAM au lieu de 64Ko.